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41 Cdo RM

 

41 Commando or 41 Royal Marine Commando/41 R.M. Commando was a unit of Royal Marines British Commandos that served in World War II, the Korean War, and in Northern Ireland. They were disbanded in 1981.

 

World War II

No 41 Commando was formed on 10 October 1942 from the 8th Royal Marine Battalion on the Isle of Wight. Unlike the Army Commandos who selected volunteers that had completed a commando training course, the Royal Marines were confident enough in the standard of serving Royal Marines to redesignate an entire unit as commandos. They served at Salerno, the Normandy Invasion and the Battle of Walcheren Causeway as part of 4 Special Service Brigade until being disbanded in 1945.

41 (Independent) Commando

During the Korean War 41 Commando was reconstituted as 41 (Independent) Commando following a request from the United Nations Command for more amphibious raiding forces. The "Independent" designation meant that their commander had sole responsibility for their unit and did not have to consult with higher headquarters on operational and logistical matters. On 16 August 1950 219 Royal Marine volunteers were assembled in Bickleigh then the Commando School. They were commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Douglas B. Drysdale DSO, MBE an experienced World War II Commando veteran who was the Chief Instructor at the Royal Marines Officer school.

The commandoes travelled to Japan in civilian clothes, with most of the civilian clothing issued by the Admiralty. The unit received more volunteers en route from 3 Commando Brigade involved in the Malayan Emergency. Arriving in Japan on 15 September 1950, the Commandos were issued American winter uniforms and weapons but retained their green berets, battle dress and boots. The first mission of the unit was in October where the Commandos embarked on two American high speed transports the USS Horace A. Bass (APD-124) and USS Wantuck (APD-125) supported by the destroyer USS De Haven (DD-727), where they executed a series of raids on the North Korean coast near Wonsan to disrupt North Korean transportation facilities.

On 10 November 1950, 41 (Independent) Commando joined the United Nations advance in North Korea where they served with the United States Marine Corps; the second time the two organisations had served together, the first being the Boxer Rebellion. During the Battle of Chosin Reservoir Lt. Col. Drysdale was given command of a 900 man unit of his own Commando, American, and South Korean forces called Task Force Drysdale. Their hard fighting together with the American Marines led to 41 Independent Commando being awarded the Presidential Unit Citation (United States) that the First Marine Division earned. However it was not awarded until 1957.

The Commando reformed in Japan and in April 1951 were assigned to what eventually became the 1st Commonwealth Division. They raided the North Korean coast with the Republic of Korea Marine Corps until 41 Commando returned to England in December 1951. They were disbanded in on 2 February 1951, the Commando having 31 Marines killed and 17 captured with one Royal Marine choosing to stay in North Korea.

Post Korean War

In 1960 41 Commando was reformed as part of the United Kingdom's Strategic Reserve. The Commando served in various places throughout the world including two tours of duty in Northern Ireland. The unit was disbanded in 1981.

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